Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hawaii wage report released, tourism surges, Kauai health workers face layoffs, police investigate Hawaii County candidate, more solar panels planned, trash shortage could cost Honolulu $2M, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Coral in Hawaii © 2014 All Hawaii News
The federal government is protecting 20 types of colorful coral by putting them on the list of threatened species, partly because of climate change. Associated Press.

Federal authorities released a list of 20 corals they now classify as threatened. However, none are in Hawaii, meaning the blue rice coral — one of three species being impacted by an outbreak of black band coral disease on Kauai’s North Shore — will not receive federal protection. Garden Island.

Medical field tops wage ranking in Hawaii, labor report shows. The Labor Department collected the data in a semiannual mail survey over a three-year cycle. Star-Advertiser.

Read the full labor report here.

After achieving the highest July on record for the state in visitor spending and arrivals, Hawaii's visitor industry is trending ahead of last year's record-breaking pace for tourism. Star-Advertiser.

Opinion: Hawaii’s political polls are regularly erratic and wrong. As a recent Washington Post headline put it, Hawaii is a place “where good polling goes to die.” Civil Beat.

Opinion: Hawaii General Election Gubernatorial Candidates on the Jones Act. Hawaii Reporter.

State House Speaker Joseph Souki will not have to testify this week about when he first heard of a legal challenge to state Rep. Calvin Say's residency, a state Circuit Court judge ruled Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

A new Hawaii law that makes domestic violence a felony if it’s committed in the presence of children has been criticized as excessive and vague. Associated Press.

Hawaiian Electric Co. released aggressive new energy plans on Tuesday that seek to increase the amount of energy derived from renewable energy sources from 30 percent to 65 percent by 2030, as well as triple the amount of solar energy on its electric grids on Oahu, the Big Island and in Maui County. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Electric Companies submitted a plan to the Public Utilities Commission that is designed to achieve specific goals by 2030 for Hawaiʻi’s Energy Future. Maui Now.

Hawaiian Electric Company has released details of its vision for the state’s energy future, and part of the plan calls for 65 percent of all electricity generated on Oahu, the Big Island and Maui County to come from renewable sources. KITV4.

Hawaiian Electric has been under fire for its slow conversion to renewable energy, but its newly released long-term plan promises to change that. KHON2.

Monsanto, GMOs and the importance of independent research at the University of Hawaiʻi. Hawaii Independent.

USGS is working with other government agencies, the University of Hawaii and the American Red Cross to improve earthquake preparedness through the 2014 Great Hawaii ShakeOut, part of a worldwide event Oct. 16. Civil Beat.

The Army in the Pacific is starting a new deployment concept this week that sends soldiers out into the region for multiple exercises and longer stays in foreign countries that are intended to reassure partner nations and develop closer relationships as the United States continues its "rebalance" to the Pacific. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

The city could be on the hook for as much as $2 million for not handing over enough trash to the operators of the HPOWER waste-to-energy plant, a Honolulu City Council committee was told Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu’s top rail executive told members of the City Council Budget Committee on Wednesday that the project has a “healthy contingency fund” despite the fact that recent construction bids came in more than $100 million higher than expected. Civil Beat.

Honolulu City Council members questioned rail leaders about the budget and a recent contract coming in significantly overbid. The lowest bid to build the first nine transit stations was $110 million more than anticipated. Hawaii News Now.

A measure exempting compostable products from an upcoming Oahu plastic bag ban won key approval from a Honolulu City Council committee Wednesday while a bill requiring takeout containers to be more environmentally friendly was shelved in favor of more study. Star-Advertiser.

Move over, Kakaako. Honolulu planners have big dreams for another neighborhood. They want to transform Ala Moana into a more vibrant, inviting cityscape complete with bike lanes, green spaces and denser development. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Electric Co.'s new energy plan angered solar customers, who could face higher monthly bills, but pleased non-solar customers, who might see their costs drop. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric Co. plans to level the playing field when it comes to customers who have rooftop solar, and others who don’t, noting that the current net energy metering program utilized by rooftop solar customers is not sustainable. Pacific Business News.

A Honolulu planning board plans to revisit a controversial set of bills that would ban sitting and lying down on sidewalks in Waikiki. Hawaii News Now.

A proposal for a one-year restriction on stand-up paddleboards at select spots along Oahu's south shore has been withdrawn, but state officials could still consider changes. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Five months ago, Michael Kaha signed in as the Wheelabrator representative at a pre-bid conference for a waste-to-energy incinerator in Hawaii County. Last week, he was named to a newly created position as the county’s deputy solid waste division chief. West Hawaii Today.

Police will investigate a complaint alleging Hawaii County Council District 5 candidate Tiffany Edwards Hunt committed voter fraud by registering to vote from her husband’s surf shop in Pahoa rather than her home in Hawaiian Acres during the 2012 election. Tribune-Herald.

The National Park Service is stressing the importance of a “margin of safety” for its ecosystems, while acknowledging there is no evidence that current water pumping practices pose an immediate threat to the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. is proposing to boost its use of renewable energy sources by 2030, providing for 92 percent of the Big Isle’s energy needs, but would also require customers with rooftop solar to pay more than they do now. Tribune-Herald.

While all but a relative handful of electrical customers have been restored service after the devastation of Tropical Storm Iselle, about 1,600 Hawaiian Telcom customers remain without landline telephone and/or Internet service. Tribune-Herald.

Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey who have been carefully monitoring the lava flow heading toward lower Puna say Wednesday's aerial assessment indicates there is little to no activity in the area that once posed the greatest threat to the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii’s largest health insurance provider is teaming up with a bestselling author to help communities here get healthier. West Hawaii Today.

Maui
The coral reefs offshore between Lahaina and Kaanapali may be some of the least healthy reefs along West Maui, possibly due to pollution from the Lahaina wastewater treatment plant and Olowalu landfill runoff, according to an expert hired by the state to conduct a West Maui reef study. Maui News.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife is looking to hire two planners to conduct outreach and provide technical assistance to new landowners participating in the department's Hawaii Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, the department announced. Maui News.

Visitors to Maui Spend $206 Per Person Per Day, Up 10%. Maui Now.

Kauai
Officials from Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, which operates the island’s two public, critical-access hospitals and three primary care clinics, said they will institute a round of layoffs system wide as the struggling state-subsidized health provider seeks to offset its projected $48 million budget shortfall this fiscal year. Garden Island.

The Kauai County Council gave their first stamp of approval to a Department of Public Works proposal that would create the state’s first pay-as-you-throw program, which charges all property owners variable rates that are based how much they discard each month. Garden Island.